How Much Money Do Kickers Make in the NFL?

Kickers rarely receive the recognition they deserve. After all, they just kick a ball, and they are only needed when their team has failed to get a first down or are close enough to the end zone.  Only true football fans understand the importance of this role; it’s one of the most critical aspects of an NFL playoff game.  

NFL owners don’t take the role lightly either, since the value of a good punter is high. The minimum average amount that a kicker earns is $610,000 per year.

The league minimum kicker salary

Kickers don’t fall into the NFL’s premier positions. Consequently, not all positions in the NFL are equal in terms of payments. The NFL kicker job is pretty hard, and they have to be great athletes to play the game.

Their salary varies according to their input and the teams they represent. The minimum wage for NFL kickers is $660,000 per year, according to Over the Cap.

With a minimum salary of $660,000 in 2021, seven kickers made the list of the lowest-paid punters for the season before some of them were waived from their teams. These punters include Max Duffy (Denver Broncos), Tyler Newsome (Arizona Cardinals), Dom Maggio (Atlanta Falcons), James Smith (Tennessee Titans), Ryan Winslow (Green Bay Packers), Nolan Cooney (New Orleans Saints), and James Smith (Tennessee Titans).

The highest-paid kicker

Kickers’ pay in 2021 rose, making Baltimore Ravens kicker Justin Tucker the highest-paid kicker. He has a $3.5 million base salary, tied with Jacksonville’s Josh Lambo. But he also received an additional $1.6 million signing bonus payout to offer him a total salary of $5.1 million for the season.

In second place is Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell, who earns a $3.0 million base salary and an additional 1.2 million signing bonus. Apart from the salary, he has an additional $488,333 coming from his contract restructuring from 2020. Therefore, his total cap hits $4.7 million.

Josh Lambo comes third, making a total cap of $4.37 million. In the fourth, there is Seattle’s Jason Meyers, making $4.35 million. He is followed closely by New York Giant kicker Graham Gano, making $4.25 million in fifth.

The average kicker salary in the NFL

In 2021, the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the flow of money. However, the NFL is using various ways to make more money, including making TV deals with ESPN and Amazon Prime. The NFL’s minimum salary is $660,000 this year.

Therefore, the average amount that kickers will receive in the season is $860,000. It is good news for most kickers since the NFL can afford to pay well for the rest of the season.

Notable kicker moments in NFL history

Kicker Adam Vinatieri of the New England Patriots kicks off during a 1997 season playoff game
Adam Vinatieri kicks for the New England Patriots kicks in 1997 | George Gojkovich/Getty Images

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Even though NFL kickers don’t garner the kind of attention the quarterbacks receive, their job is crucial.

One important moment was in the 1998 NFC Championship Game between the Minnesota Vikings and Atlanta Falcons. The Vikings were up by a touchdown and with four minutes remaining to play in the fourth quarter. However, Minnesota kicker Gary Anderson ruined a 38-yard field-goal attempt. It culminated in Atlanta marching downfield to force overtime and ultimately earning a ticket to Super Bowl XXXIII.

Another notable moment was the notorious “Tuck Rule Game” during the 2001 AFC Divisional Round. Adam Vinatieri knocked in a 45-yard field goal amidst heavy snow and wind. The field goals helped send the game to overtime, and Vinatieri sealed the win with another 23-yard kick.